Dr. John Leslie Landgraf, 96, passed away quietly on Dec. 14, 2010 at Smith Care Center in Plymouth Harbour. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Mary Lindsay Elmendorf, and his two daughters, Leslie Landgraf of New Haven, Conn. and Susan Landgraf, and his granddaughter, Gabriela Landgraf-Neuhaus of New York City as well as Dr. Elmendorf’s two children, Lindsay Elmendorf of Sarasota and Susan Elmendorf Roberts of Hudson, Wisconsin, and their nine children, to whom he was a loving grandfather.
Dr. Landgraf was born in Albany, Ore. on Aug. 2, 1914. For five of his earlier years his family lived in Southeast Asia, on Sumatra and Borneo, where his father served as an oil well technician for the Shell Oil Company. Between 1930 and 1933 Landgraf finished Alhambra California High School. With a Storrs Scholarship, he entered Pomona College in 1933 and graduated in 1937 Phi Beta Kappa. Next, he attended Columbia University’s Graduate Program in Anthropology where Ruth Benedict was one of his advisors. Then in 1941-42 he was Research Assistant to Clyde Kluckhohn at Harvard University, where his 1950 Columbia PhD dissertation was published in 1953 as Land-Use in the Raham Navaho Area of New Mexico, Harvard University XLII-No.1.
He taught for a year at M.I.T., 1942-43.
In 1944, he married Marion Marchetti in Springfield Mass. The couple started a family and moved to New York. From 1951 to 1968, the family lived in Hickory Hill, New York, a cooperative community that Landgraf helped to found. In 1977, Marion died while they were in Washington after his appointment as Director of the Senior Fulbright Program. During World War II, he spent two and a half years of active duty in the Pacific in the U.S. Naval Amphibious Corps in the Pacific as Ensign and Lieut. (JG) U.SN.R.
In 1946, Landgraf began 23 years of teaching at New York University, moving from Instructor to Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science. With the help of Margaret Mead, he started the Department of Anthropology with support from President James Hester in 1967. He took two leaves of absence, first in 1954-55 for research and publication on the Murut tribe in North Borneo and in 1960-61 as U.S. Peace Corps Director in Sabah.
In November 1981, Landgraf married fellow anthropologist Dr. Mary Lindsay Elmendorf, widow of educator John Elmendorf, in Sarasota, Fla. In 1987 Landgraf received a Wenner-Gren Foundation Grant to return his field notes, photos and artifacts to the Sabah State Museum in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. His papers are deposited with the Borneo Research Council in Phillips, Maine.
From 1981 until 1995, Landgraf accompanied Mary Elmendorf on many of her assignments with the World Bank, International Research Council, USAID, ISTE, etc. and together they prepared several papers including one on renewable energy in Thailand and an evaluation of 150 rural water supply and sanitation projects in Guatemala.
Until 2004, they lived together in the first home built on Lido Key, where Landgraf tended a garden and maintained his role of “anthropologist in charge of salads.”
Editor’s Note: Obituary Courtesy of the Herald Tribune http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/heraldtribune/obituary.aspx?n=john-l-landgraf&pid=147165715, December 18, 2010.